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Animal designs

Animals and wildlife offer the watercolourist the opportunity to have fun with colour and mark making. Jake Winkle reveals the techniques he uses to obtain different textures and patterns
Hamish, watercolour on Arches Rough 140lb (300gsm), 20×28in (51×71cm).

Vigorous directional brushstrokes and use of warm and cool colour formed this wonderful shaggy beast

I find the English landscape largely subdued, made up of subtle greens, browns, ochres and greys, which is a real challenge to interpret in bold colour whilst maintaining a sense of realism. The texture of a shaggy brown highland cow, on the other hand, seems to lend itself to being interpreted in all sorts of wild colours; maybe it’s because of the way light and colour reflect off different facets of animals, or simply that a blue cow looks fine and a blue tree does not.

When I think of animals I tend to categorise them into two broad groups: those with distinct patterns or designs and those made up of textures or no design. A subject with a strong pattern like a zebra will be approached slightly differently from the highland cow because no matter how wild I go with colour and mark making, I still want the stripes to be discernible. On the other hand, because the highland cow has no distinct pattern, I don’t have to worry about expressive brushstrokes muddling it.

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About The Artist

Water-based media enthusiasts will find huge inspiration and masses of great advice from professional artists Hazel Soan, Jake Winkle, Cheryl Culver, Paul Weaver and Marie Antoniou this month. Hazel explains how to translate tones into watercolour on paper to maximise the effects of light and shade in your paintings; Jake reveals the watercolour techniques he recommends to paint texture and patterns in animals; Cheryl demonstrates a coastal scene in acrylics; Paul urges you to try quick studies in line and wash to keep your en plein air skills in tip top condition while Marie demonstrates how to use tube black to best effect in your acrylic paintings! Learn more from Adele Wagstaff about the structure of the lower limbs and feet to help improve your figure painting, and the colours to use for skin tones for your coloured pencil portraits from Alyona Nicklesen. With more features on pastel painting, detailed still lifes, a new technique to try and oil painting demonstrations from Peter Graham and Bob Brandt, whatever your favourite subject matter or medium you're bound to find loads to inspire you in this month's issue!